The Water Park Birthday Party

This party was a HUGE hit!  It was a wonderful hot day and our yard was filled with fun water-based activities.

My plan of action for themed parties is to get a couple good ideas, scale them back and then throw in a few original thoughts of my own.

I tried to use Pinterest to help me get started...  I think I am the only 30-something suburban Mom who dislikes Pinterest.  It makes me see what I could do - if only I had a whole lot more skill, time and creativity.  It makes me feel bad, just bad.  Sorry, but that is the truth.  I did use one idea from my Water Party board - I tried the tie-dye shirt (with a bandana).  Let me just say, it didn't look like the picture.  At all.

So, I actually found this link the most useful for an organized, but slightly creatively stunted person like myself.  It's just a long paragraph explaining how they planned their party.  Perfect!  I took a lot of their great ideas and made them work in our much smaller yard and party.

I first made signs for each of the "attractions" and labeled each area.  The Super Jump was our water balloon filled trampoline.  I had planned on 500 water balloons.  I'm not sure we made it to that many, but Matt and the girls worked on filling water balloons for most of the morning before the party.

The party included stations:  trampoline, slip n' slide, water slide, fishing pond, drinks, tattoos and bandana painting.  It was enough to keep the kids moving from one thing to the other and not bored.  We also had pizza and cake, plus popsicles to keep everyone cool.  It was a super fun party!

This photo doesn't capture her catapulting off the end of the slide and almost into the fence.  It was awesome!

I made these cute squirt bottles for the kids to play with at the party and then take home after.  I'll do a quick tutorial next week!  Easy peasy and they were used a ton.

And a few party pictures to show the whole thing in action.

Most of all it was the smile on my brand new 7 year old's face that made it worth it. She got a bit jilted last year since we were moving on her birthday and the years before that she didn't really have enough of her own friends to have a party.  Plus, her birthday is at the end of the summer and a lot of friends are forgotten, have moved or are traveling.  We were so thankful that almost all her closest friends were able to come.


Comparing yourself

Anyone else do this?  I thought comparing myself to others was bad but since I've had kids it has taken on a whole new flavor.

It's SUPER easy to compare your kids and your family to someone else.  Both positively and negatively.

I talk to other moms and I swear their kids do not fight like mine do.  They do not nod their head in agreement as I describe the level of cruelty I hear on a daily basis.

My strongest desire as a Mom is to see my kids get along.  And yet, I feel I have the worst kids in that regard.  I'm working hard to stop focusing so hard on it and start focusing on being kind to them myself.

Dang - finger points back at self...  I definitely struggle with kindness, patience and showing love in all situations.  And I am horrified when I see those same struggles in my kids.

So - here enters grace.  God's grace covers me for all those shortcomings and it also COMPLETELY covers my kids. And I must model grace to them.  So, I will step back, take a deep breath and calmly tell them to cut it out, love each other and then I will force them to hug.  Because I think that just might work.

Plus, pictures like this are good reminders that my girls really do love each other.


From Goodwill to the garage to her room - a desk REDO

Okay - so this desk is ugly.  Oh, so ugly.  But, the lines were cool and it was definitely the right price at $8.  Score!

Before purchasing this desk I took a look at how I might be able to update it.  My favorite blog, Young House Love, has been inspiring me for years but I have rarely acted on it.

The two shelves on the desk are easily removable and the top had a very distinct line, so I figured I could tape it off and paint it.

First, I took the shelves out and spray painted them with a glossy black.  Then I taped off the feet and top and sprayed the rest of the desk with a metallic silver spray paint.  I used the whole can of metallic paint doing 3 even coats on the desk frame and I didn't really feel it was great coverage.  But, it looks pretty good from a distance - just room for improvement if I decide to do this again.

I had planned to buy chalkboard contact paper online and cut it to fit the desktop but I ran out of time to order it.  So, I purchased a can of chalkboard spray paint and taped off the rest of the desk.  This was after leaving the rest of the paint to dry for a day.  The chalkboard paint took about 3 light, even coats.

It's so fun to see Anna adopt this desk as her own.  I gave her a chalkboard marker to use and she quickly covered the desk in some of her favorite Bible verses.  I think her only complaint is that she wishes the desktop was much larger!  But, it fits her room great.

I went back a few days later and grabbed the matching chair.  I had originally passed it up because I thought it might be too ugly and I wouldn't be able to redo it.  But, I looked more closely and realized that the 60's plastic seat and back could be recovered (I hope), so I'll be attempting that in a few days.  Stay tuned!!

Note:  See the entire room transformation here!


Tween Room Transformation

There are just 4 short months until my 12 year old turns 13.

Interestingly, when she started 6th grade we began to notice huge changes in her room.  She took everything she didn't care for anymore and placed it in her closet with a huge sign draped across that said "Pre-6th grade".  I didn't have permission to throw anything away so it all stayed there.

I avoided her room and I waited.  I waited the whole school year until the middle of the summer.

We spent 2 weeks this month sorting through all those MANY items.  We sorted into keep, throw away, put away and give to my younger sisters.

Then she left for camp and the real work began.  I worked on the painting and accessory purchasing for several days and then called in my good friend Kayla to help me arrange the furniture and hang things on the wall.  This is the friend whom my daughter has asked to call Aunt Kayla because she loves her so much - so her helping was very touching for my girl.

Here is her room before the big changes but after some decluttering.  She decorated the wall and I think she did a great job, it just needed some updating and sophistication.  In this room, the color was very dark (we didn't choose it) and the bed was impossibly big for her smallish room.

And here is the before of the closet side of the room.  Cluttered, full of things she wants but can't really get to.

And TADA!  This room now truly represents her and allows her creative freedom as well.  She wanted a black and white themed room so I did my best, while still leaving room for her to add colors here and there. 

 We added a desk (thrift store before and after - more photos coming soon on that) and got rid of that huge bed. Many of the other things were found at Goodwill or Ross. The matching chair will require a bit more work, so I'll just say - the fabric is chosen and purchased and sitting on the chair in the garage.

Did I mention I only had 4 days to get this room done?  I visited Goodwill several days in a row - plus about 3 other thrift stores in town. My budget was VERY small.

Here is a closeup of the front of her desk.  The two vases and small pitcher were from Goodwill. The mirrored tray with jewelry was also from there. The mirror on the wall I already had.  The lamp was white, I taped off a couple stripes and painted it glossy black.

The desk was originally really ugly, so I updated it.  I spray painted the top with chalkboard paint so she can write all over it.  When I asked her what her favorite part of the room was, she said the desk! I'll share next week about how I did it. 

The framed photos came out so awesome.  She loves shoes and has been wearing women's sizes for a few years now.  So these are just a great fit with her personality. Of course, I won't actually be buying her any of these shoes. I found the photos online and framed them with some thrift store frames.

I even worked on her closet in the last 30 minutes before she came home. Organizing is my gift so I figured I'd better use it! I was able to hang a special shelf from her Grandma and put several other special or necessary items that just didn't work in her room now.

We are currently using her bookshelf for her clothes.  Perhaps someday we'll find her a dresser that works, but for now this is just easier.

And one last photo - here is the difference between one coat of Valspar High Hiding Primer (on the right) and Kilz2 Primer (on the left). It took me an extra few hours to double coat 2 walls with the Kilz since I had run out of the Valspar.  I was pretty surprised at the big difference.  But, using primer was worth it - I only had to put one coat of paint in the room.

Notes:  Curtains are from Lowes - with light blocking panels behind.  Paint color is also from Lowes - Valspar. I found the exact color referenced in a Q&A about black and white rooms so I just bought it without even testing it.  It's a very mature color and has quite a bit of blue in it.  The duvet cover was found at Amazon.  I wanted a cover that would work with the room, be comfortable and not cost a fortune.